Trustees for the Establishment of the Colony of Georgia in America
The Trustees for the Establishment of the Colony of Georgia in America, or simply the Georgia Trustees, was organized by James Edward Oglethorpe and associates following Parliamentary investigations into prison conditions in Britain. The organization petitioned for a royal charter in July, 1731, which was signed by George II in April, 1732. After passing through government ministries, the charter reached the Trustees in June, 1732. Oglethorpe personally led the first group of colonist to the New World colony, departing England on November, 1732 and arriving at the site of present-day Savannah, Georgia on February 12, 1733 O.S. The founding of Georgia is celebrated on February 1, 1733 N.S., the date corresponding to the modern Gregorian calendar adopted after the establishment of the colony.
- 1 Background
- 2 List of Georgia Trustees
- 3 Employees and Officials of the Trustees
- 4 Trustee Georgia
- 5 Revival of the Georgia Trustees
- 6 References
Parliament established a committee to investigate prison conditions in February, 1729 and Oglethorpe was appointed chair. The work of the committee resulted in the release of prisoners onto the streets of London and other cities without prospect of employment. Oglethorpe conceived the idea of a colony as a means of productively employing such people. The plan for the colony quickly broadened in scope to encompass several philanthropic and strategic purposes.
Dr. Thomas Bray, a supporter of prison reform, invited Oglethorpe to use an organization he created some years earlier, known as the Associates of Dr. Bray, as the entity through which he might apply for a royal charter for the new colony. Oglethorpe expanded the group to include members of the prison committee and other social reformers. Dr. Bray died in February 1730, and Oglethorpe became the driving force behind the organization, which would soon give birth to the Georgia Trustees.
Oglethorpe and other Georgia Trustees developed an elaborate plan for settlement of the Georgia Colony. Now known as the Oglethorpe Plan, it specified how towns and regions would be laid out, how property would be equitably and sustainably allocated, and how society would be organized to defend itself on a perilous frontier.
Though Oglethorpe and others wanted debtors' prisoners to inhabit the new colony of Georgia, the Crown determined otherwise. The Colony would become a military buffer for South Carolina against the Spanish and some Creek factions. Each of the new "Georgians" was chosen for their work skills, which would best contribute to the colony. The men were trained and made members of the militia for the defense of Georgia and South Carolina. Most of the 114 included wives, children and servants. Dr William Cox, appointed medical Doctor for the colony brought his wife Elizabeth, son, William, a young daughter and a male servant. In an early letter to the Trustees, Dr Cox said: "the greatest health hazard in Savannah is alligators in the streets". Unfortunately, Dr Cox was the first to die (59 days)from the real health hazard-consumption, for which he had treated many colonists immediately after arrival. Dr Cox was buried with "the highest military honors" by Oglethorpe. His family returned to England, but his son William, 11 years old stayed and apprenticed to help build Bethesda, America's oldest orphanage. Reference: www.georgiasfirstday.com Thomas D. Cox Historian.
List of Georgia Trustees
Trustees Named in the Royal Charter, Effective June, 1732
Adam Anderson, Arthur Bedford, William Belitha, Rev. Richard Bundy, Rev. John Burton, George Lord Carpenter, Thomas Coram, Edward Digby, Francis Eyles, Stephen Hales, George Heathcote, Rogers Holland, Robert Hucks, John Laroche, Robert More, James Oglethorpe, John Lord Viscount Percival, William Sloper, Rev. Samuel Smith, Thomas Tower, James Vernon
Trustees Appointed at the First Annual Meeting in March, 1733
Richard Chandler, Anthony Ashley Cooper, 4th Earl of Shaftesbury, James Lord D’Arcy, James, Earl of Derby, Thomas Frederick, Sir John Gonson, William Hanbury, Sir William Heathcote, Robert Kendall, Henry L'Apostre, James Lord Viscount Limerick, John Page, Sir Erasmus Phillipps, Christopher Tower, John Lord Viscount Tyrconnel, George Tyrer, John White
Trustees appointed at later Annual Meetings
1734: Rev. Dr. Thomas Rundle, William Talbot, Richard Coope, William Wollaston, Robert Eyre, Thomas Archer, Robert Tracey, Henry Archer, Francis Wollaston
1737: Sir Jacob Des Bouverie, since Lord Viscount Folkestone
1738: Sir Henry Gough, Sir Roger Burgoigne
1739: Lord Sidney Beauclerk
1741: Henry Bathurst, Philip Percival (brother of Egmont), John Frederick (brother of Thomas Frederick, deceased Trustee)
1742: Alexander Hume Campbell, Sir John Barrington, Samuel Tuffnell, Henry Calthrope
1743: John Phillips, Velters Carnwall, John Wright
1745: Rev. Dr. Thomas Wilson
1747: Francis Cokayne, Samuel Lloyd
1749: 2nd Earl of Egmont (John Percival), Anthony Ewer, Edward Hooper, Sir John Cust, Slingsby Bethell, Stephen Theodore Janssen
1752: Richard Cavendish
Employees and Officials of the Trustees
London: Benjamin Martyn, Secretary; Harman Verelst, Accountant
Savannah: William Stephens, Secretary, later President of Savannah County and President of the Georgia colony. Numerous others served in various positions for shorter periods.
The Trustees governed the Georgia colony from its founding in 1733 until June 28, 1752 O.S., a period known as Trustee Georgia.
Revival of the Georgia Trustees
The concept of the Georgia Trustees was reconstituted in 2009 by the Georgia Historical Society under the suggestion of the Executive Vice-President Laura Garcia-Culler. Each year during the Georgia Historical Society Gala, two new members of the Georgia Trustees are admitted as members by the Georgia Historical Society in conjunction with the Governor's Office. These new members are chosen for their dedication, commitment, and contributions to the State of Georgia.
2009: Margeurite Neel Williams (Entrepreneur), Bernard Marcus (Home Depot Founder)
- Coleman, Kenneth. ’’Colonial Georgia: A History’’. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1976. Pages 13-24.
- Baine, Rodney M., ed. Creating Georgia. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1995. Pages xiv-xvii.
- ‘’The Colonial Records of the State of Georgia’’, Volume 1. Allen D. Candler, et al., eds. Pages 27-30. ‘’Manuscripts of the Earl of Egmont: Diary of Viscount Percival. Afterwards First Earl of Egmont’’. Volumes I-III. London: Historical Manuscripts Commission, 1920-23.